The Alexander Technique
The Alexander technique is based on correct posture so that the body is able to function naturally and with the minimum amount of muscular effort. F.M. Alexander was also an actor and found that he was losing his voice when performing but after rest his condition temporarily improved. Although he received medical help, the condition was not cured and it occurred to him that whilst acting he might be doing something that caused the problem. To see what this might be he performed his act in front of a mirror and saw what happened when he was about to speak. He experienced difficulty in breathing and lowered his head, thus making himself shorter.
He realized that the strain of remembering his lines and having to project his voice, so that people furthest away in the audience would be able to hear, was causing him a great deal of stress and the way he reacted was a quite natural reflex action.
In fact, even thinking about having to project his voice made the symptoms recur and from this he concluded that there must be a close connection between body and mind. He was determined to try and improve the situation and gradually, by watching and altering his stance and posture and his mental attitude to his performance on stage, matters improved he was able to act and speak on stage and use his body in a more relaxed and natural fashion.
In 1904 Alexander traveled to London where he had decided to let others know about his method of retraining the body. He soon became very popular with other actors who appreciated the benefits of using his technique. Other public figures, such as the author Aldous Huxley, also benefited. Later he went to America, achieving considerable success and international recognition for his technique. At the age of 78 he suffered a stroke but by using his method he managed to regain the use of all his faculties – an achievement that amazed his doctors.